The BP Oil Spill which happened on April 20, 2010, was the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history releasing approximately 185 million gallons of crude oil into the gulf. This event was the result of a wellhead on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform blowing out in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 40 miles southeast offs the Louisiana coastline. Eleven men working on the oil rig platform were killed and 17 others were injured. People livelihood and the environment were devastated by this event. Ethical dilemma, issues, and facts
This incident captivated the world and had tremendous media presence and government involvement, but as questions arose, ethical issues started to emerge. This paper will take a look at the ethical issues surrounding the oil spill specifically pertaining to the environment and potential honesty issues.
First was the sheer magnitude of the damage the spill which will have an impact to the wildlife in the Gulf and the ecosystem for years to come and who actually was responsible for the cleanup. BP began to blame others and would not take full responsible for the event. However, BP did acknowledge the oil soaked wildlife, natural habitats that would be destroyed by the oil, thus impacting many different type of species. BP did talk about the miles long underwater plumes of oil, but would not discuss if the large plumes of oil had the potential to poison and suffocate life across the food chain, which was what many people did believe was happening.
The chemical dispersants that were used on the oil were also unique to the Deepwater Horizon and its effects on the animals were unknown, but they were used anyway. The problem with using dispersants on the oil is that this type of treatment was considered experimental and they did not know for sure how the chemical would affect the animal, many believe that the chemical dispersants are toxic to many of the creatures could be potentially lethal to the animals.
The second ethical issues arose when BP tried to cover up exactly how much oil was leaking into the ocean. The government believed that there was a larger amount of oil that was released into the ocean then BP admitted to. Also, BPs delays in notifying the government and the American people of ongoing issues with trying to cap the well, added fuel the fire. This made many people believe that BP was trying to cover-up their mistakes and poor decisions. Stakeholders
There are so many stakeholders affected by this event. The people who work for the fishing and seafood industries, the tourism industry, restaurants and clubs will be affected by the spill. Also, equally vested are the people who are property owners, renters, and vacationers. All the people who worked on the BP rig and many of the other drilling companies that are located in the gulf were affected by this event. Options
Option one is for the government to step in and take complete control of the situation and ensure that all affected people, animals and the environment be compensated for the devastation that is oil spill has inflected.
Option two is for the BP to step up to the plate and quite placing the blame on others and own and be responsible for this incident.
Arguments Option one does have legal implementations, but it would ensure that all stakeholders directed affected by the oil spill would be covered. Option one is currently being pursued by the Obama administration and the Justice Department. They filed a lawsuit, which wants eight companies to be held liable without limitation for all removal costs and damages caused by the oil spill, including damages to natural resources. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties under the Clean Water Act.
According to The Times-Picayune, “The lawsuit alleges that safety and operating regulations were violated in the period leading up to April 20.” The lawsuit states that BP failed to keep the Macondo well under control during that period and failed to use the best available and safest drilling technology to monitor the well’s conditions. The lawsuit also stated that BP failed to maintain continuous surveillance and maintain its equipment which would have been used to ensure the safety and protection of personnel, equipment, natural resources and the environment.
This option has applied the Utilitarian Benefits, the US Government is going to ensure that the greatest benefits for the largest number of people is applied, which in the case is the all the people directly affected by the oil spill. These people are the people who work for the fishing and seafood industries, the tourism industry, restaurants and clubs will be affected by the spill. Also, equally vested are the people who are property owners, renters, and vacationers.
Option two has many economical, legal, and ethical dimensions to it. First, if BP decides to take full responsibility for the oil spill, this would mean that are 100% liable for the event. They would have to pay out compensation to all affected stakeholders and repair the environmental impacts that were caused by the oil spill. This has the potential to cost billions of dollars and potential put BP out of business, which would then affect its employees and stakeholders, which BP has an obligation too also. I very seriously doubt that this is the option any major company would take. The fact that the government had to step in and try to recover funds makes this option more of a fantasy than a reality. Evaluating the arguments
I believe that Option one is the best option to choose because it is evident that BP is not going to completely own up its responsibility. BP knows that it will cost billions of dollars to clean up the spill, compensate all stakeholders and restore the environment. I do believe however that BP does know it is responsible for the oil spill and they will only do what is minimally required by the law, which means that the government will have to step in and make BP owns its responsibility. This option also offers the greater benefit for the most affected people and covers the cleanup for the environment.
Option two will require BP to acknowledge its responsibility associated with the event and the acceptance of the complete economical and legal impact on its company. BP has a responsibility to its stakeholders and employees which would make option two not viable. BP knows that it is better for its company’s survivability to blame others and have the other companies share in the cost. Decision
Option two is the most ethical choice to make. BP is at fault and they should be held accountable to clean up after themselves. What has happened to the concept of accountability, and taking ownership of one’s choices? To me it seems that in today times, companies are less concerned about the applying ethical and doing what is right and good for the people and the earth, instead they are greedy driven purely by profits.